a night of magical thinking
J was giving her a bath when I left. The past couple of nights it has been difficult to put her to bed so he figured a bath would calm her down. I kissed them both and ran out the door.
I met my mother at the theatre half an hour before the play was to begin. She was drinking a cup of coffee. I didn’t feel like one. We talked. I told her about G and her recent problems with sleeping. My mother laughed. “Her mother wasn’t a good sleeper either,” she said and smiled at me. We talked about how fast things are happening at the moment. How it took only two weeks from the day she sat up until she was crawling, how at the moment all she wants to do is stand.
This is how the play begins. This is how it began last night. Despite it being almost three years since I bought the book and read it, I instantly remembered the entire story. I sat in the dark counting how many people got the book for Christmas. Quite a few. I remembered how I asked my mother to read the book. It was less than six months after my dad’s heart surgery and I had a feeling she could relate to the book. I remembered the letter my godmother wrote me after I sent her the book for Christmas. “The premise is that I give you books, not the other way around. But I thank you for the beautiful experience. I couldn’t put the book down, I read it too fast, but I can’t wait to go back and reread it and dive into the details,” she wrote. Like my mother she is the spouse of someone with a weak heart and carries around the memories of several hospitals.
When the play began, I knew how it would end and at the same time I had no idea how it would end.
I always thought the book was more about the marriage and the husband rather than the child. This is how I remember it anyway. Maybe I remember it like that because I didn’t have a child when I read it. Last night I kept thinking the play was more about the child rather than the marriage and the husband.
G didn’t leave my thoughts at all last night. Every word about a mother’s love for her child, every word about a mother’s worries, her advice, her choices went straight to my heart. “I love you more than even one more day” seemed like the right – maybe the only – way to tell a child how much you love it. I thought about my sweet girl burying her face in the warm hole between my shoulder and cheek I create when I tilt my head slightly to the side. I thought about her mouth wrapped around my breast, the smile she smiles at me when she, drunk on milk, lets go and looks up as to say thank you. I thought about the look in her eyes, the look that is already there at 9 months, when I catch her doing something she knows I don’t want her to do.
I walked my mother to the metro afterwards. We talked about the actress and what a great job she had done, but we didn’t discuss the play. We said only very few words about the play. I didn’t feel like it. In some way discussing the play was like discussing the love I feel for my child, my happiness, my fears. For my mother, I think, I imagine, discussing the play was like discussing the love she feels for my dad, for me, for my brother. Too private.
I rode my bike home. G didn’t leave my thoughts once. It was freezing cold and my contact lenses froze to my eyes. I hurried up the stairs. J greeted me in the kitchen with kisses and the lovely words that the evening had been fine.
I kissed my girl goodnight. I crept under the covers and kissed my husband goodnight. I felt, I feel, extremely grateful for both. I don’t know what it is like to lose someone you love. But I know that hearing somebody else’s memories about this kind of loss just makes you want to get home to your own loved ones as fast as possible, makes you want to kiss them and whisper how much you love them.
I love you more than even one more day.